Natural Gas in Italy: Features and Perspectives in Light of Russia’s War in Ukraine [GGP]
In 2011, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a special report entitled “Are We Entering a Golden Age of Gas?”1 Back then, the IEA recognised the potential and valuable role of gas in the future energy system. Natural gas growth was mainly driven by its positive role in replacing more polluting fossil fuels, hence natural gas was considered as “bridge fuel” within the global energy transition. A decade later, such role of natural gas is questioned, potentially undermining its future contribution to the energy system. Higher climate and environmental commitment to tackle CO2 and methane emissions as well as the comeback of security of supply as top political priority are the major challenges that the natural gas industry is facing.
Natural gas is a key pillar of the European energy system. The evolution of its role has entailed important consequences in the sphere of politics, economy and security. Within the EU, Italy is one of the largest gas markets as it consumed around 72.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas in 2021,2 accounting for about 40 per cent of total primary energy supply (TPES). Since 1973 the share of natural gas has increased, displacing oil as the largest contributor to TPES, reaching 42 per cent of TPES in 2019,3 while oil’s share has fallen from 76 per cent in 1973 to 34 per cent in 2019. Two historical moments were deciding for the incremental growth of the role of natural gas in the Italian energy system: the 1973 oil crisis, when gas was instrumental to diversify Italy’s energy mix which was at the time heavily reliant on oil; and the 1987 referendum on nuclear energy when it became clear that gas would play a dominant role in Italy’s power sector.
The rest of this publication can be read here. Pier Paolo Raimondi is researcher in the “Energy, climate and resources” programme at IAI. His main research activity is related to energy geopolitics and geoeconomics in different geographical areas, mainly Europe, Africa, MENA region and former Soviet Union area. He is also Researcher at the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM). He holds a Master in International Relations and a Bachelor degree in Political Science from the University of Milan. Published by Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in the IAI publication series.
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